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Teacher Stabbing : 9th-Grader to Stay in Custody

Times Staff Writer

A juvenile court referee refused to release a ninth-grader accused of stabbing a teacher from custody Thursday, saying the student had planned the attack, showed the knife to other students and told them what he was going to do.

“Several students had been told that he was going to stab the teacher ahead of time. They didn’t believe him,” Sylmar Juvenile Court Referee Lloyd Jeffrey Wiatt said at an arraignment hearing for the 15-year-old Pacoima youth.

Wiatt ordered that the suspect remain in custody at the Sylmar Juvenile Hall pending the outcome of a trial set for March 28.

The boy, whose name was not released because he is a minor, has been charged with carrying a knife on a school campus and with assault with a deadly weapon in the stabbing of English teacher Cynthia Edwards, 37. She was attacked Monday during an English class at Olive Vista Junior High School in Sylmar.

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Edwards, of Palmdale, was stabbed in the back when she called the boy to the front of the classroom while she wrote a disciplinary report on him for using profanity. The knife, its 3 1/2-inch blade embedded to the hilt near Edwards’ shoulder, was removed at Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, where the teacher continued her recovery Thursday.

At the arraignment hearing presided over by Wiatt, the slightly built suspect denied the assault charge, a move similar to entering a not guilty plea in criminal court. The suspect’s arraignment on the charge of carrying the weapon on campus, which was added by prosecutors Thursday, was continued until March 14.

Parents Present

The suspect, who wore a gray sweat shirt and black pants and sat at the courtroom defense table with his parents, did not speak during the hearing. After the denial of the assault charge, Los Angeles County Deputy Public Defender Mark R. Frazin asked Wiatt to release the youth to the custody of his parents.

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Frazin said the youth had strong community and family support and had no police record. But Deputy Dist. Atty. Michelle R. Rosenblatt opposed the suspect’s release, saying that the accusations against him were “so heinous and so violent that detention is required.”

“He did it with planning and contemplation,” Rosenblatt said. “It was not merely an act in anger.”

After noting that police reports on the incident say the suspect showed fellow students the knife and told them of his plan to attack Edwards, Wiatt ordered that the suspect remain in custody. Wiatt also said that the police reports say the boy admitted to investigators that he stabbed Edwards.

No Warning

Apparently because the students who were told of the planned attack did not believe the boy, they did not warn administrators or Edwards.

Along with the suspect’s parents, eight other relatives attended the hearing. The family members refused to discuss the case afterward. Frazin said the boy has received letters of support from former teachers and clergy members from the Pacoima area.

If the suspect is convicted of the charges, he can face a punishment ranging from probation where he will be allowed to live at home to incarceration at a California Youth Authority prison.


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